Racehorses are usually purchased at public auction before they are old enough to have started their racing careers. As foals, yearlings (one year old) or two-year-olds, they remain untried commodities at the time of their sale. They can also be bought during their racing careers at sales featuring horses in training. Occasionally they are purchased privately, depending on the budget and requirements of the purchaser.
The first step for a bloodstock agent is to determine the client’s requirements. Does the client want a horse to flourish early in its two-year-old season when horses make their racing debuts? Or does the client want a late-maturing horse; perhaps a filly with an attractive pedigree and thus residual value when the time comes for her to breed? Perhaps the client has an ambition to win a specific race, or have a runner at a particular meeting – Royal Ascot, for example. And of course, what is the client’s budget?
A bloodstock agent always looks for the best value when buying a racehorse. There are a multitude of auctions around the world that cater for all requirements and budgets. In Europe the principal sales are held in the UK, Ireland, France, Germany and Italy.
In advance of every sale the company auctioneers compile a catalogue detailing the pedigree of every horse. Each horse has a catalogue page of its own. This shows the horse’s sex, foaling date, country of birth, sire, grandsire and great grandsire, together with its dam (mother), second dam (grandmother) and third dam (great grandmother). The female (or distaff) side of the horse’s family will be catalogued in great detail. Any significant relatives of the horse are listed, together with the family’s achievements.